Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Lewis LaRosa
Release Date: 20th April, 2016
LaRosa and Lemire’s partnership on Bloodshot so far had been nothing short of outstanding. Since Valiant green lit a Bloodshot reboot with Lemire at the helm we have been privy to – I think – one of the most interesting characterizations of what is (was), basically, an unstoppable killing machine. This is exactly what Bloodshot is when deconstructed, but Lemire has given him a heart and soul. With Bloodshot Reborn #12 Jeff has basically stripped back all the work he has done and we’re treated to a Bloodshot at perhaps his most basic. What I’m saying here is, basically, Lemire and Larissa have said screw 11, let’s turn this sucker up to 12. Let me leave you with no doubt, people, this issue is incredible.
There are two very brilliant elements to this issue of Bloodshot Reborn. One – the assault of Bloodshot and Ninjak on the Shadowmen, and two – the flashbacks of Blooshot and Magic, and Lemire has interweaved these two elements with the skill and dexterity you would expect from someone of his pedigree. It really is as close to a perfect issue as you can get. Both elements serve two purposes (I think). One I know for sure – the introduction of the main antagonist to The Analogue Man storyline, the other – I suspect – a lead in to the promised Bloodshot Island storyline coming this summer.
The issue covers Bloodshot and Ninjak’s assault on the Shadowmen after they destroyed the village Bloodshot protected killing everyone, including Magic. Having the only things Ray cared about taken from him, Bloodshot is out for vengeance, and we finally see, for the first time since Jeff started writing Bloodshot Reborn, just how utterly unstoppable he is. From jumping out Ninjak’s burning plane without a parachute (or a care), to having the lead Shadowman gore him just because he wanted to feel something. It’s bloody, and it’s brilliant. When Jeff finally does end his run on Bloodshot, Valiant could do a lot worse then offering him a shot at Ninjak. The way Lemire has written Ninjak in reaction to Bloodshots singular fury against The Shadowmen, and his reaction during the subsequent slaughter of them is probably the best portrayal of him I’ve read. He has Ninjak’s callous, yet cheeky wit down to a tee, and it’s entertaining as hell.
The speed of this issue is incredible and the transitions between the action of the assault and Ray’s past memories of Magic are very cleverly mastered by both the script and art, they are dotted through the issue like little pools of calm, or a pause for breath. It’s quite possibly the simplest trick to use for transition, but it’s masterfully done here.
Lewis LaRosa: I wanted to give you a standing ovation when I read this issue. It’s like the last two episodes were your warm ups, and now we’re in the main event. There is only one more issue to conclude The Analogue Man, and if Valiant follow suit with swapping out the art team on every arc I may fall into a black pit of despair. LaRosa is THE Bloodshot artist extraordinaire. There are two absolutely incredible double page panels that will blow your mind, and they aren’t even the best part. That honor is reserved for one single page panel that is so good, it’s literally like a kick in the head. As much as the praise is deserved for Lewis’ artwork, it’s only one part of the equation, and Brian Reber deserves credit for his color bringing the action to life. I’ll say it again, I’m going to be gutted when the team of Larosa and Reber sign off with The Analogue Man. They’ve set an incredibly high bar for the next team to match, and it’s a big ask.
Part four of The Analogue Man is quite simply one of the best issues of a comic I have read in a long time. Coming from someone that reviews comics that statement should be taken with the gravitas it implies. I actually cannot think of one thing to criticise in this issue, except that when I finished it I wanted more. The creative team have hit the sweet spot with this issue and the portrayal of Ninjak and Bloodshot at the most basic levels levels of these characters are gives the reader genuine elation. Such was the impact of this penultimate episode I may require some kind of body armor to read the conclusion.
Rating: 5/5 (I’d give this one 6/5 if I could).
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.